Pop Culture Drama, Recent Eats & BLW meals!

Good morning, everyone!! I hope y’all are well out there. I am UNWELL given all the Vanderpump Rules drama. I meannnn (!!!!!). IYKYK. I’ve put more productive things, like reading my book club book, on hold while I drink from the fire hose that is this drama.

Anyway! For those that don’t melt their brain with trash TV, I am going to treat ya to a maybe somewhat boring, but somewhat more wholesome, recap of our last few weeks, ha!

The last few weeks have been a bit tough for us. Poor Quinnie had a double ear infection, eye infection & stomach bug. All her dairy intolerance symptoms came back too, so we are once again halting the dairy trial. DJ and I also got the stomach bug, so that’s twice in a few months- no bueno!!! We did have a somewhat healthy stretch though until all this thankfully. Also Quinn’s in Leap 7, and it’s kicking our butt. And to top it all off, while driving home from work, a tire flew off a truck in front of me, hit my bumper and now it’s only hanging on by some tape. Back to the collision center we go :/. Feeling very thankful I was totally fine and Quinn wasn’t with me when it happened.

Enough of the woes though!!! We did have some fun and wonderful moments despite functioning sub-optimally and the stretch of poor luck.

February 18th we started the day with a trip to Walmart to grab a few miscellaneous items and to get Quinn out of the house. She has been loving the grocery trips!

We returned home, and I started immediately into some food prep! Miss Independent has pretty much free rein of our kitchen and living room area. It’s nice we have a pretty open layout to keep an eye on her and already had baby gates installed for the Moose.

Back to food prep- I have been really enjoying leaning into baby led weaning! I do have days where it feels overwhelming, especially when time and groceries are running low; however, I’m learning all the time how to make nutritious and convenient meals for Quinn. I have some of these combinations to share today, and it helps me to look back at what I’ve done recently for quick ideas too.

One of my favorite go-tos for her is eggs mixed with various ingredients (eggs have been a great way to introduce new foods and incorporate greens), avocado and toast. She always eats the toast, where the eggs and avocado is a toss up.

I also made these cauliflower nuggets with sweet potato. I used these to introduce onion and parsley. I didn’t quite dry out the cauliflower enough because they were tough to crisp up, but Quinn still gobbled them up.

The next day, February 19th, we wanted to go to the land to let Moose run around. Quinn cried from the moment we got in the car, so we decided halfway there to scrap the drive and just walk the towpath instead.

It actually ended up being an unexpectedly special walk. We walked past where DJ asked me to be his girlfriend on this bridge in January of 2010 ❤️. It felt extra nostalgic and sentimental returning there with Quinn & Moose.

It was a great temperate walk for February and reminded us how much we enjoy that trail.

After our walk, we stopped by Corelife. Usually I’m all about getting a salad there, but I was craving a wrap instead. I loaded up lots of veggies and tofu. Now that I’m able to have soy again, I’ve been craving tofu more often!!

That afternoon I made Quinn a “basil Alfredo” spaghetti squash with a coconut yogurt/avocado/spinach/basil/Italian seasoning/nutritional yeast blended into a sauce. She ate every bite.

We decided to venture over to Krieger’s to pick up some items for a meal I wanted to make from my Half Baked Harvest cookbook. I’ve discovered I am way more diligent about making recipes if I choose one from a cookbook vs saving them electronically. I’m still a decade behind with my hard cover cookbooks and paper planner, hah!

February 20th, we started the day playing with Moose!

The recipe I made that weekend was a real winner (so far all the recipes have been from HBH!). This was chicken saltimbocca with prosciutto, arugula and capers. Here’s a similar recipe from her site!

February 22nd, I made Quinn egg/oat/banana pancakes with a boiled blueberry compote. I think pancakes are her favorite food right now! I use them to introduce finely crushed nuts too.

She is still obsessed with her walker. She also is recently obsessed with the hanging hand towel in the kitchen. She rips it off the oven handle and runs around with it like she’s a flagger at the Grand Prix.

That afternoon, I made Quinn a lunch of toast with mashed edamame spread, tomato wedges and artichoke hearts. I try to balance her meals over the day with fruits/veggies/proteins/grains, but it’s always a mystery what she will actually eat.

For dinner, I made DJ and myself lamb salads with vegan feta and a fattoush dressing. We agreed this simple meal was one of our favorites of late!

One very exciting new skill Quinn has been working on the last few weeks is waving!! She really does it the best when I wave to her in the car mirror. I was able to capture it while we were at a stoplight that week (one of the rare times she’s not wailing in the car!).

February 25th, I was craving Thai food, so I made these green curry bowls from HBH with shrimp added.

They were yummy! Not our favorite recipe so far, but it gave me my Thai fix! I served with the Bfree Naan bread- I don’t recommend, they’re pretty flaky and have an odd flavor. I do like the Bfree pita though!

February 26th was prep for the week. I made the Jennifer Aniston salad again for book club the next day!

That afternoon DJ and I took Quinn and Moose to Bath Nature Preserve for some fresh scenery on our family weekend walk.

A fun little detail on this trail- there is a Solar System Walk that has a marking of all the planets in our solar system spaced on the trail scaled to how far apart they are in reality.

February 27th, I made Quinn a Banza penne with beef bolognese and zucchini. She loves this! A new favorite meal for sure. I try to make a nice sized batch of these meals, so I can easily send her food to daycare too.

That evening I had book club. Gigi stopped by to watch Quinn before DJ got home so I could make it on time. So so sweet of her! It was a great book club- we read The Love of My Life. It’s a good read! I’d give it maybe 3.5/5 stars – it’s a fast one with some decent twists.

February 28th, I dropped Quinn off at daycare for a couple hours so I could take Moose on a run. It worked out beautifully as it was during her wake window.

It felt soo good to get that run in! And it was nice to have one-on-one time with Moose ❤️.

Here is a pic from Marie while I was at work that week with Moose’s new friend, Wilson. 😊

Quinn was definitely under the weather that week. I tried to take her to the park and do bucket swings, but she was not having it. She did enjoy sitting in my lap though and swinging.

I took her after to the pet store to see fish, birds and her personal favorite, gerbils.

She was refusing food mostly that week and wanted to nurse nonstop. I think if I had to guess it was a combo of not feeling well/teething & Leap 7.

The tides started slowly turning on March 5th. We all seemed to be feeling a bit better. Quinn ate up some of her favorite pancakes & gave us some big characteristically Quinnie smiles. I was so relieved she was eating again!

That afternoon, we took Quinn to the park! We did the swings again and the slide. She was way more happy about it this time!

I still wasn’t feeling 100%, so I ordered sushi, my go-to comfort food when not feeling well. I realize this is a very odd choice of a comfort food, but I crave it when I’m feeling off. I think it’s the sodium I crave. (This is from Ichiban sushi, my favorite around here!).

Once Quinn started feeling better, I jumped back into making her meals. She really enjoyed this combo of pinto beans, broccoli, tofu and kiwi.

Not much else is going on around here! In my spare time I’ve been planning Quinn’s first birthday party, reading The Measure for the next book club, watching Married at First Sight and trying to keep us all healthy!

Questions for you:

– Are you following the VPR drama? Must discuss!

– What is your go-to comfort food?



Eliminating dairy/soy after my baby’s cow’s milk/soy protein intolerance diagnosis

Hey friends! I have a little bit of a different post today. I’m going to share all the tips/tricks/products I can think of that helped me survive the elimination of soy/dairy from my diet due to breastfeeding with Quinn’s cow’s milk protein/milk soy protein intolerance (CMPI/MSPI). I didn’t see much in the way of resources out there, so I hope this little post can be an extra knowledge nugget for those looking for it. When Quinn was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein intolerance 9 months ago, I had quite the journey ahead with navigating how to eliminate both allergens from my diet. I have been vegan in the past, which may have helped a little with the dairy elimination, but soy was another bear! When I say soy is in everything ….(!). Of note, I entirely eliminated soy from my diet (some opt to keep soy lecithin/refined soybean oil in the diet, but it depends on the baby- talk to your provider about that!).

I hope this helps any other moms that are out there feeling overwhelmed because the learning curve can be tremendous. But it is possible to continue breastfeeding! (However, if you ultimately decided to go the formula route- there is absolutely no shame in it!). I also want to have this post written in case we have to navigate this again in the future with another baby, because, wheeew, I’d hate to forget all this!

I don’t want to get too graphic/medical- that’s not the intention of this post. But I will say it took a solid three weeks for Quinn’s symptoms to show marked improvement. Around week two I thought why am I doing this if it’s not working?, but the pediatric gastroenterologist encouraged me to give it time, and she was right! When I started seeing the improvement in Quinn’s symptoms, it was the motivation I needed to keep going. If you do want more details about what lead to the diagnosis, we can definitely chat in the comments or feel free to send a message.

A couple quick disclaimers: I’m not writing this as a medical professional/to give any medical advice, I’m simply writing friend to friend! Please check with your provider regarding these products and soy/dairy elimination if you have any questions. Additionally, this post is not comprehensive. There are a lot of really great products/resources out there, and I’m discovering new ones all the time! If I missed something you love, please let me know so I can include it ☺️. Further, this post is not sponsored in any way. I just genuinely want to share products that have worked for me (and some that haven’t). Lastly, products can change, so while I hope this entirely accurate, please double check labels :).

Any who!! Let’s get into it, shall we?!

First things first- I learned it’s important to read every label. Many restaurants have allergen sheets online where you can quickly tell if there is dairy or soy in an item. Below is the chart I used to familiarize myself with what to look for specifically on labels. Here is the link for the graph below reproduced from McMaster Children’s Hospital.

It can seem overwhelming looking for all these ingredients, but it is helpful that most labels write “contains: *insert allergen*” under the ingredient list. I still read the whole label though because I have seen soy in the ingredient list when it’s not listed as an allergen.

Some sneaky culprits of these allergens that surprised me were lunch meats/certain processed meats (casein), dressings/marinades, breads and candies/chocolate. When going out to eat, most places can check if something contains soy/dairy. Just specify you cannot have butter too, because I discovered many people don’t automatically think of butter as dairy. Also you can request your meal is cooked with olive oil- that way you can be more confident butter or vegetable oil (which usually contains soy) won’t be used. Also, just because something is vegan does not mean it’s soy free!

Now let’s talk the good stuff- what’s not off limits!! I tried to stock our fridge with whole foods to serve as the base of my diet. Think- vegetables, fruit, meats, seafood, eggs and grains (oats/rice/quinoa/farro). The trick here is to be cautious buying “quick” variations of these items. For example, many of the instant rice packages have soy added. When cooking with just these basics listed, you add so much flavor to your meal with lemon, lime, herbs and other spices. (Also double check spice/seasoning labels because dairy/soy can hide in there too!).

In addition to my “base”, below are the products I’ve explored/used. The biggest bummer- some of these specialty items can be pricy, but it’s good to know these are available if you want a suitable alternative. I substitute with these products in recipes too, and usually the meal turns out well!

Milk: There are so many options out there for this! I usually opt for Silk’s unsweetened cashew or almond for less creamy milk or Planet Oat Oatmilk if I want creamier. You have many options depending what you prefer- coconut, oat, flax, pea protein for example. There are extra creamy/sweetened/flavored/chocolate options too! I totally avoided anything hemp based though. If ordering a latte or milk based drink at a coffee shop, I suggest ordering oat milk as it will usually be creamier and frothier than almond or cashew. Here’s a fun roundup of some of the best.

Coffee Creamers: My favorite are the nut pods. They aren’t necessarily as creamy as real creamer, but I’ve enjoyed trying the different creative flavors. Califia has a line of coffee creamers that sound delicious, I just haven’t got around to trying them yet!

Yogurt: My favorites are either the unsweetened So Delicious coconut, True Goodness plain coconut (creamier than the So Delicious) or oat based yogurt. Another option for almond based is Kite Hill unsweetened Almond, although the flavor is a little ~different~. If you venture into the sweetened route, there is a lot out there! I just have found the sweetened yogurts tend to have a lot of added sugar, so I’d rather sweeten mine more subtly/naturally with honey/fruit. I personally don’t enjoy the Nancy or Forager yogurt as much, but they have oat and cashew based ones, respectively. I have never tried Culina, but that’s another soy/dairy free coconut based alternative. Also! Plain unsweetened yogurts can double as sour cream. I always top tacos with it and a little a lot of hot sauce 😋.

Butter: I LOVE the Earth Balance soy free butter! I haven’t tried anything else, but I’m sure there is more out there.

Breads: My favorites- Dave’s Killer Breads, Atoria’s Lavash Wraps . Other brands to look for: Udi’s, Bfree. For tortillas- Siete Chickpea or Cassava tortillas are my faves! I heat them up in a frying pan with a little soy/dairy free butter until golden and make tacos with them.

Lunch Meats: Here is a helpful link that shares common lunch meats that are dairy/soy free. My go-to used to be Applegate’s Turkey Breast, but recently it’s become kind of dry and flaky! Now I use Hormel’s Natural Turkey breast. I also tried to avoid nitrites/nitrates/preservatives in general.

Cheese: My two favorite dairy and soy free cheese brands are Violife and Follow Your Heart. I love the Violife Colby Jack shreds (they melt great) and Follow Your Heart smoked gouda slices particularly! Violife has a great parmesan cheese block too. Daiya is another solid option, I just prefer the other two more. Although I do love Daiya’s jalapeño havarti cheese block!

Pizza: This category is trickier to find good alternatives I’d say. Daiya has some options- I don’t love all of them, but their meatless meat lovers is probably my favorite. I think the best is the Vegan Harvest Flatbread. Amy’s vegan margherita is also tasty! (Amy’s also has some good soy/dairy free burrito options (and general other prepackaged options too!).

Mac n’ Cheese: I usually make my own with a pasta like Jovial or Banza & the cheeses listed here, but some prepackaged options are Annie’s and Amy’s!

Protein bars: Some dairy/soy free protein bars have sugar alcohols, so be cautious if you’re avoiding those. My go-to soy/dairy/sugar alcohol free were Good! Snacks Bars, Go Macro, and Rx Bars. If you’re ok with sugar alcohols, No Cow, Orgain and Lenny and Larry have options. Other general options: Aloha & Larabar. Some of these have good protein powder options too. In order to add a boost of protein to my day, I make a “Greek yogurt” with a dairy/soy free yogurt, 2 scoops of collagen powder, peanut butter or chocolate pb2 (makes it more of a chocolate mousse), berries & honey! That collagen powder is a great protein boost you can mix into coffee, soups, yogurt, etc.

Peanut Butter: There are many options here, just watch for the soybean oil! My favorite is MaraNatha Creamy or Crunchy peanut spread. Smucker’s Natural, Justin’s, or Once Again Nut Butter are other solid options.

Ice Cream: There are some good options out there you will see listed as “frozen dessert”. Most use a coconut, almond or cashew base. So Delicious has delicious options (double check for soy though). My favorites are the cookie dough, salted caramel cluster, oatmilk S’Mores, vanilla bean sandwiches, mocha almond fudge bars & dipped double chocolate delight bars. Clearly I’ve made the rounds in the ice cream department! I have a harder time finding Oatly products, but I think the coffee flavor frozen dessert is so delicious and creamy!!! They have some great other flavors too. Some other brands that have specific dairy/soy free products: NadaMoo!, Halo Top (contains sugar alcohols), Cado Avocado, Favorite Day, Jeni’s (Texas Sheet Cake is a winner!), & Talenti sorbettos.

Chocolate/Sweets: Hu chocolate is my favorite (the salty dark chocolate is my weakness), but it can be pricy. Another great option is any of the Enjoy Life products (I really enjoy the brownie bites and chocolate chip cookies. They have good baking product alternatives too!). Also, you can keep out an eye for plant based alter ego chocolate bars. Another way I satisfy my chocolate sweet tooth is with these Veggies Made Great Chocolate Muffins. I put a little ice cream on top of a warm one of these for a dessert, and oh my goodness- heaven! It reminds me of a molten lava cake. For a quick overall healthier brownie alternative, I enjoy Nature’s Bakery Double Chocolate Brownie Bars. Oh and I cannot forget the PNW Cookies!!! Of what I’ve tried, I most love their Chocolate Chip cookie & Molasses cookie. Yum!

Cereal: I usually get the Vanilla & Almond Special K, but there are many cereal options available! Here’s a list of soy free options, many of which are dairy free too (but, as always, please verify).

Snacks: I have to have my salty snacks. My favorites include Hippeas Snacks (white cheddar particularly) Harvest Snaps Green Pea Snacks (original lightly salted), Popcorners, Hu Grain Free Crackers, Angie’s BOOM CHICKA POP popcorn (kettle corn is my go-to) & Simple Mills Sea Salt Crackers. Oh and Siete also has a slew of great chip options! There’s actually a whole lot out there in the way of snacks, just have to read the labels!

Dressings/Oils/Marinades: I keep it overall pretty simple. I tend to use balsamic, olive oil, mustard and Fattoush Salad dressing for my day-to-day. Noble Made has some fun options- some I still haven’t tried but want to! Most of their products are vegan (except the garlic parmesan wing sauce), but I can’t confirm all products are soy free, so please double check! Saucy lips has excellent choices too- and I believe they are entirely soy and dairy free! Primal Kitchen is another brand for dairy/soy free options. I tried the garlic Alfredo sauce, and it was fine; it did grow on me. However, they have other great options to explore!

Entirely dairy and soy free brands: These brands you can trust are good to go! Many of them have a wide array of products, so have fun exploring them!! Enjoy Life, Violife Foods, Daiya, & Hu Kitchen.

Further resources: I came across this master list as well! This list is nice because it highlights dairy free only foods as well if you are ok with soy. I don’t use an app, but it may be a convenient way to look up food choices! Here is a list of some to consider.

I actually have felt so good eating dairy/soy free. I think the biggest difference I’ve noticed is I feel overall less inflamed and oddly energized. It’ll be interesting to see if there is a difference when I add these back into my diet.

I sincerely hope this was helpful for someone out there! Please let me know if I’m mistaken on any of this information or you have products I can add :). You’ve got this!!



Family Brunchin’ & A Mini “Vacation”!

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all are having a nice week. I have a little time before my shift starts to chip away at this post.

January 28th we started the weekend with some cuddles with Moose ❤️.

That morning I switched out my usual bowl of oatmeal for a little egg burrito. Something about the weekends make me crave egg for breakfast.

That afternoon we went to my nephew, Jack’s, final basketball game of the season. They won and all received trophies at the end. It was so sweet! Here’s a a pic after a change and feed.

That evening I was able to soak up cuddles with Moose while Quinn climbed all over the baby-proofed living room. She is so much more steady now pulling herself up and cruising than she was even a couple weeks ago. I don’t feel like I have to hover right next to her every time she pulls herself up on something in fear of a fall forward or back.

While Quinn explored the daring living room landscape, DJ and I pulled up home designs on the TV as we dreamed about features we would love to have in a future home if/when we build on the land (we’re talking a long time from now). It’s fun to dream and look at different styles though! I know a lot can change between now and then. Right now I’m really into the “barndominum” look. Said every Midwest girl ever hahah.

January 29th we met with my Dad’s side of the family for a big family brunch at my cousin’s! It was really nice having my sister, Andi, in town from Colorado. We missed Kevin and Halston (who just bought a house in Charlotte, NC!) .

I love this little bib Quinn got from her Aunt Laura and Uncle Ricky!

Andi came by in the afternoon- it was great to catch up!

January 30th I started the day with some avocado toast on leftover dairy/soy free sourdough. Very yummy!

That day was so much fun. I love my full days with Quinn at home. We started out with some morning giggles in her new nugget fort. This nugget was a recommendation from a recent friend, and it’s been so much fun!!

That afternoon, I made a wrap with bacon, smoked Gouda cheese (dairy free), power greens, red onion and mustard on a mustard wrap. I’m actually not usually a big bacon fan even after eating meat again, but it’s weirdly sounded kinda good lately.

That afternoon we went to Target for some fill-in groceries, and I whipped out my cart cover for the first time. She had a ball strolling the aisles. This may be our new past time. Wow, writing this post I realize I am quickly turning into one giant cliché, if I wasn’t one already 😂. But if loving going to Target for fun is wrong, I certainly do not want to be right!

I picked up this vegan jerky just out of curiosity- but it wasn’t all that great. It was fine. Give me the real stuff 😜. Sometimes I find myself talking like this and I’m like, “who am I?!”.

That evening I made us some bowls of veggies, brown rice and grilled chicken strips with the primal kitchen garlic Alfredo mixed in.

January 31st, I took Quinn to our go-to coffee shop, Nervous Dog. I quietly read her a few books and played with some toys and puppets.

That afternoon our peaceful morning was unfortunately a bit disrupted. The alarms in the house went off unprompted for the THIRD time, so I called the fire department to make sure there wasn’t anything deleterious truly going on like a carbon monoxide leak.

We waited for the fire department in my car. I asked the NP about having Quinn’s hearing tested, but she advised we just watch and wait (see how language develops and how she responds to sounds, etc.). At this time, we have no reason to be concerned but will have a lower threshold for referrals if any concerns arise. I’m happy with that plan!

Anyway, back to the pain in the butt alarms – no carbon monoxide or anything else was detected thankfully. Just one of the detectors was bad and setting off the rest randomly. Sort of an anticlimactic story, but I am glad it is!

February 1st, we whipped out the walker for Quinn. She is obsessed with this thing. I think it gives her a sense of freedom and independence she’s longing for. I always joke she has this attitude of “this baby stuff is for the birds!”.

I had to work February 2nd, but Marie sent us some sweet photos of Moose from his daycare! In the first he’s hanging with his pal, Captain. Some of his best buds are the littlest dogs. Moose definitely does not know his size, hah!

February 3rd, I made Jennifer Aniston’s famous salad per the recommendation of my friend, Melissa. Oh my gosh, this is so good. I made mine with violife vegan feta, but you really couldn’t tell the difference!

I served it with slightly over air-fried salmon (whoops). But even DJ enjoyed the salad, and I wouldn’t say feta is usually his cup of tea/block of cheese.

The morning of February 4th I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or as DJ and I jokingly say “the wrong side of the bread”. I was in a bad mood for no good reason. And usually when that’s the case, the reason is hormones. I felt the need to just be entirely alone for a bit. I also felt so guilty wanting that but after talking to Clair and my mom that day, they assured me that is very normal. Quinn had a bottle she didn’t drink at daycare that I didn’t want to have to dump, so I asked DJ if he could feed her while I pumped and ran a few errands. He happily agreed. I ran to the UPS store and then stopped in CVS. While at CVS, I had a craving for something salty and carbonated (corroborating my hormone theory all the more). I grabbed some beef jerky (the REAL stuff) & a chemically-laden diet Dr. Pepper. I then whipped into a nearby empty parking lot to pump while listening to a podcast, taking myself on a little mini vacation at a driving range complete with palm trees 😄.

After pumping, I headed back home and was in much better spirits. Nothing a deserted tropical oasis, a DDP and a self-prescribed time out can’t fix 😄.

That afternoon we went on a beautiful family walk outside.

For dinner I made us Praeger All American Impossible Burgers with smoked Gouda vegan cheese in lettuce wraps. DJ actually loves this brand Impossible burger, as do I.

February 5th, we had such a fun morning as a family! And this time I woke up in a much better mood. I had been wanting to take DJ to the Burntwood Tavern in Cuyahoga Falls ever since I went with Rachel. It’s so cozily situated on the water and not far from us.

We attached the fast chair for Quinn and played puppets with her while waiting for our food. She was a happy camper being out and about!

Quinn is wearing her overalls from her Great Grandpa 🥰.

During their brunch, they have a Bloody Mary bar. I couldn’t remember the last time I had one, but it looked delicious, so I made one- extra extra spicy 🌶️ .

DJ opted for one of their mimosas.

I got the same thing I always get – an omelette, but the potatoes are where it’s at 😛. DJ got their Nashville hot chicken sandwich- yum!!!

We came back that afternoon and played with Quinn, crawling alll over the place, before her next nap. ❤️

Quinn still snoozes a lot in my carrier for naps, so lately I’ve been watching Married At First Sight while strolling on the treadmill. This is a good season so far! I love this show so much. I think it’s one of the best kept secrets in reality TV land. I also listen to the Love at First Sight podcast after every episode – Aysha and Jason are so much fun to listen to and are hilarious. Sometimes I look forward more to listening to the podcast than watching the actual episode.

The rest of the day, I chipped away at a recipe from the Half Baked Harvest cookbook- these basil beef bowls. Oh my, were they delicious!!!

February 6th was Quinn’s 9 month appt! Can you believe how quickly the time has gone? I surely cannot. All around a great report for this one ☺️.

I didn’t take a pic, but for dinner that night I made her pasta with a homemade tomato, power greens and oregano sauce. This girl gobbled it down!!

The next day I made her avocado, sardine and quinoa balls. She loves sardines, I just have to give them to her on bath days 😆.

After work on February 7th we went on our usual outdoor walk.

February 8th, we spent a fun day with Gigi. We went on a gorgeously crisp walk outside with Quinn taking in all the sites. I’m excited to be able to start jogging with her in this jogging stroller as the weather turns!

That afternoon we ordered Aladdin’s. I was craving their lamb salad and ordered a side of the baba ghanoush with pita. I added my own vegan feta for the full experience. Never disappoints! If you ever find yourself here, you must order a side of their hot sauce 😋.

That evening we went to Senior Night at my little sister-in-law’s basketball game ❤️. It was so special and emotional! 🥹. Really stinking proud of her! She’s going to where DJ and I went to college to play basketball, so we’re all really looking forward to that!

After work on February 9th, we went on our usual walk greeted by more blue skies! It certainly has been a mild winter.

For dinner for Quinn, I made sweet potato wedges, brussels sprouts, and quinoa mixed with a little bit of hummus.

I also prepped some nuts to introduce in her oatmeal to help introduce more allergens. She’s done well so far!

Also some really exciting news!! Quinn and I are able to have soy again! We trialed her for about two weeks where I had a little soy daily and then ultimately fed her tofu for a couple days – and no issues!!!! This is huge! Next step is dairy – but I’ll take what I can get for now 🙂 I’m also relieved to know she won’t go through her life having to avoid soy and that she truly did grow out of it.

Alrighty enough of my rambles!!

Questions for you:

– What would be the hardest food for you to give up?

– Any podcasts you’re enjoying?



Our January So Far!

Good morning everyone!! I hope your year is off to a great start. Can you believe we are already nearing the end of January? It’s been a pretty eventful one for us, in both great and other not-so-great ways 🥴. I’m going to share it all today!

Zipping all the way back to December 28th, I picked up a shift at work and was greeted by this beautiful sunrise heading out the door. Usually I leave in the pitch black, but my shift started later this day. It was a nice start to the morning. I also got this picture below while Quinn was at daycare 🥰.

That afternoon, we FaceTimed with my siblings, niece and nephews. It was fun to see everyone. Andrea is coming in from Colorado at the end of the month, so we’re excited for that! She hasn’t seen Quinn since July!

We jumped on the call fresh off a walk outdoors, hence the wintry getup, hah!

December 29th was a very special day. We celebrated Christmas with my Dad-in-law’s side of the family in the evening. It was a reminder of how wonderful it is to live so close- it was tough to get all our schedules to match, but when you live in such close proximity, you can even celebrate Christmas a week later on a week night!

One tradition DJ did growing up, and I would love to continue with Quinn, was having a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. How adorable is this?!

I had a moment of total nostalgia. We had Moose with us, and I had a flashback to last year’s Christmas when I was sitting by the fire with Moose when we he was just a puppy and I was still pregnant. Now there he was, a full grown dog, lounging in the same spot, and Quinn is now here with us too. Wild how things change in a single year!

Quinn got after the gifts! She loved trying to eat everything per usual. In her mind the whole world is edible. Bow? Yum. Tissue paper? An appetizer. Cardboard? Main entree, fiber.

She was spoiled by her Sissy, Poppy, Aunts and Uncle! We had a blast the next day diving into the gifts. How adorable is this little turtle ball pit 😍.

That afternoon of December 30th, I decided to try the stroller again for a walk. With Moose, I don’t feel comfortable putting her in the carrier while walking him since he tugs on the leash when dogs pass. She enjoyed the stroller much more without the car seat. She just happily took in the views and crisp air while clutching her best friend, Violet.

New Years Eve, I was in the mood for a festive brunch. I decided to make a “beermosa” with non-alcoholic malt beer from Two Roots. This is fantastic non-alcoholic beer and award winning for a reason. Mixed with the orange juice it was a great combo. For brunch I made veggie egg scramble with a slice of Dave’s bread topped with Crofter’s berry jam.

It was a fun, chill day at home since DJ had the day off too! In the evening, Quinn got to experience her first fine dining experience.

We were going to a restaurant called Ken Stewart’s Lodge, so it seemed appropriate to put her in this outfit 😊.

And we’re off!

She started off in the high chair but didn’t last very long before we started passing her around. This social butterfly was ready to socialize.

For my main, I got scallops over butternut squash risotto (containing butter) which were divine. At that time I was adding back dairy into my diet in small amounts since Quinn had done well with yogurt and cheese. I had a little creamed spinach too. Unfortunately the next week, all her symptoms of cows milk intolerance returned, so I’m going to wait until she’s closer to a year to try again.

Quinnie girl got her own side of mushrooms, but was not super interested. She way preferred a couple bites of my risotto.

Here she’s reaching for the dessert menu. Girl knows what’s good!

Overall, she did well! It was a longer (albeit delicious & wonderful) meal. We were there from probably 530 to about 730, and she usually goes to bed no later than 7- but she was ready to push back the time on NYE! I probably should have brought more distractions though. At one point we used her shoes as a toy/teether- I mean they never actually touched the floor so they were probably fine?! 😅 It was so good to see our family and chat about everyone’s plans for the coming year.

January 2nd, DJ had the day off again! We had been wanting to take Moose to PetSmart to do his Christmas shopping, just never found the time until then.

Yes, we were bad parents without getting him anything to open on the holiday, but to make it up to him we thought it’d be fun to take him to the store and let him choose his own gifts/treats! If he really seemed excited about something we loaded it up.

The nice thing was pretty much everything he wanted was on sale after the holidays. Thanks for being a cheap date, Moose 😄.

Moose also so sweetly sniffed out some holiday cookies to take to his friends at Aunt Marie’s. Thoughtful guy, that one.

After getting Moose’s goodies, we took Quinn over to admire the birds and fish. I had her outward facing in the carrier, and she just loved taking it all in! This would be a fun rainy day activity for us to do in general.

That afternoon, we snuck in a family walk between the rain storms.

We started Quinn in the stroller, but she was over it halfway through and wound up in the carrier. We laughed because DJ was left pushing Violet in the stroller and no baby. Quite the look there, Deej!

That evening held another cherished memory ❤️. We went to Gigi and Gordie’s for Christmas!

They even had a stocking made for Quinn 💕.

We had fun opening gifts with Quinn (again trying to keep her from eating all the wrapping paper). She was sooo spoiled by all her grandparents!

We had Gigi’s chili for dinner too- my favorite!! She puts the big chunks of tomatoes in her chili, and I could eat it on repeat for days 😋.

Also I had to share how many EmergenC packs we were gifted for Christmas- clearly everyone knows we need them 😂.

January 4th was a tough one! I was using my back cam in the rain while backing into a gas station spot and didn’t see a pole since it was blurred in the cam 😭. I took out my back bumper and a taillight. Thankfully Quinn was not in the car (I was on my way to daycare when it happened). It’s all sorted now, and thank goodness for auto insurance, but was such a hassle, and I was just so mad at myself!

But this girl can turn any week around! On January 6, it was flannel day at daycare so I put her in this sweet outfit 🥰.

That day I started feeling under the weather, and it got worse as the day went on. I was so nauseated by noon/had no appetite, and I couldn’t eat anything the rest of the day. That is highly unusual for me. By the evening I felt so weak and tired that all I could think about was getting into bed. Overnight, it hit DJ too. It was very clear by the next day we had the stomach flu. It was the single hardest day in parenting we had faced yet. We were so weak and sick, we set our alarms every hour to alternate caring for Quinn. Gigi graciously stopped by to relieve us for a bit too in the afternoon. We survived the day, and thankfully Quinn didn’t seem to get it as bad as we did (she did throw up once but seemed her normal, happy self most of the week). We turned the corner Sunday and started getting an appetite back. We loaded up all the bland food items.

We even had enough energy to set up an obstacle course for Quinn that afternoon. She had so much fun with this!

My milk supply plummeted after the bug, but two weeks later thankfully it has come back to baseline. I basically just had to eat a LOT and drink a lot of water to get it back.

Monday January 9th Gigi sweetly watched Quinn while I zipped to drop off my beat-up car and pick up a rental.

January 10th, Quinn and I played in her playpen after breakfast.

I then got Quinn ready for the day and realized we unintentionally were matching, hah!

I finally got Quinn’s eight month photo just a little late!

January 12th I had off work. Quinn and I had a blast just hanging out together all day and cooking.. I made a vegan shepherds pie from scratch. DJ and I didn’t love it- I should have known it wasn’t our cup of tea looking at the ingredients. But Quinn, now that girl loved it!

That week we decided to give the full on baby led weaning a go again! It’s been much less stressful this time around (also she has 7 teeth!). Quinn has been enjoying it, and meals tend to last longer since she really has fun munching on her foods. So far, we have done egg, avocado strips, tomato wedges, zucchini spears, sweet potato wedges, sardines, whole asparagus, broccoli florets and pineapple BLW style! We still give oatmeal for breakfast and purées to make sure she’s getting her iron, but it’s been an exciting and fun endeavor!

January 13th, my birthday, I decided to start the day with a different type of breakfast! I gave the shepherd’s pie a second chance and put an egg over it. It transformed the flavor, and I had this on repeat for several days after!

I went for a massage that morning and returned home to a sweet edible arrangement from DJ. It was so thoughtful of him to get this. I couldn’t really do cake this year with the dairy/soy allergy, but this was a very sweet alternative ❤️.

Rachel stopped by and brought me food from Town Hall in Cleveland knowing I would be able to order something from there! Again, so thoughtful 🥹. I had their beyond delicious Brussels sprouts and spicy salmon roll. There is so much on their menu I want to try!

It was so much fun chatting away with Rach! When she headed out, I opened my gifts from DJ- I have to share this one with you all because it’s one of my most treasured gifts I’ve ever received.

Best gift ever 😭.

That weekend was a much needed chill yet productive weekend. We got so much done and spent quality time together as a family. Moose loved the relaxing weekend too. I thought it was so sweet he took a nap on her baby blanket 🥹.

While Quinn insists I’m physically in the playpen with her 90% of the time, sometimes when I run over to do dishes or get my cup of coffee real quick, I’ll return to her making the silliest faces through the mesh 😄.

On January 15th, Gigi and Gordie offered to stop by to watch Quinn while DJ and I celebrated my bday out! We decided to go back to Michael Angelo’s. I had a giftcard, and I wanted DJ to experience their yummy food!

It always feels so weird when we get into the car without Quinn or Moose. We realized we hadn’t had a date since October! Crazy how time flies. We decided we want to be more intentional on finding time for dates out this year.

We shared a flight of wine to sample some different ones. Our favorites were the 2021 Rose and Wildflour Cabernet.

For my main, I got vegan rigatoni. It was fine, but when I brought home leftovers I was able to doctor it up with my own vegan cheeses and butter to take it to another level 😋.

I also gobbled up their asparagus salad which I had last time and loved!

DJ enjoyed their carbonara!

Car selfies always and forever.

We stopped by our land after to see it in the winter! So fun to dream about the future.

And I’ll wrap up here for now considering this is plenty long enough!

Thanks for reading :).

Questions for you:

– What’s everyone reading right now?

– Highlight of your January so far?



A Magical Mountain Christmas ✨🎄

Good morning, friends! I hope you have had a wonderful start to the New Year. Currently, the house is a mess, laundry is everywhere, my to-do list is about a mile long, but I really just want to share with y’all about our Christmas before it gets too far gone! 

For Christmas, we met with my mom, Pete, Halston and Kevin in a cabin-inspired Airbnb home on Lake Lure, NC. Lake Lure is situated among breathtaking mountains, so peaceful and quiet you could hear a pin drop. On a hike, you may have the occasional black bear sighting, as my mom and Pete did. It’s the type of place that when you’re there, it feels like the rest of the busyness of the world fades. And once we were settled in, we were all able to take a big deep breath, but the lead up to the road trip was pure chaos (as is expected!).

We had been planning on taking my car for the road trip as it’s a smoother ride than DJ’s truck, and Quinn seems to tolerate the longer rides in it better. However, with the storm and plummeting temps coming in, taking the truck was a no-brainer. The only problem was we didn’t have a cover for the truck bed (with the gifts, baby things and our own luggage we needed to use the bed!). On Sunday, I was calling every car shop in town and looking online for a cover that would come in on time for us to leave. I found one that would arrive the 21st. I then frantically called around to mechanics to have it installed on the 22nd, the day we were pegged to leave. Thankfully, Joe’s Auto in Stow agreed to make it work even though they had a full docket as was. They were so kind and had it done by noon on the 22nd. (Although they did mess with me and called telling me I had the wrong size cover- followed by, “just kidding, you’re all set!” lol, I needed the laugh that day, but I did believe him because I totally would order the wrong size). I picked up the truck, thanked them profusely, loaded it up after zooming around packing in the morning, and we were ready to hit the road when DJ got back from work that evening. 

We left around 8 pm on December 22nd after dropping off Moose at Marie’s (so hard to leave him, but we knew the 9ish hour drive would be near impossible with him in the truck- more motivation for us to get a mini van ha!). While the driving through winding West Virginia can put anyone on edge in the middle of the night, we were lucky to have avoided the storm and only dealt with fog and rain. 

Quinn did overall pretty well through the night. We arrived in NC around 6 AM on December 23rd to a balmy zero degrees outside. DJ and I were zombies- neither of us had slept a wink. My mom was eager and ready to scoop up Quinn- so I handed her over as I fell into bed and a deep sleep. I didn’t realize I hadn’t given her any of Quinn’s toys to play with or her pacifier- so my mom and sister got creative with entertainment using kitchen supplies! 

Look at these two together! <3 

When she started getting hungry, I got up to feed her, and just those few hours of sleep made a huge difference. I still had some cobwebs the rest of the day, but I could function! 

I took in the breathtaking home. It was so cozy and not a detail was spared. A book was lovingly placed on the blanket near the fireplace, there was a s’mores station ready for the outdoor pit, a hot tub was sizzling and ready for all, and the view of the mountains and lake was magnificent. Here’s a compilation from the weekend:

Downstairs, there was an adorable little sitting area.

While there, we gave Quinn blueberries with oatmeal for breakfast every morning (they even had a high chair!). We discovered blueberries are a contender for favorite food. 

After her morning nap, the fam watched Quinn while I snuck off to the workout facility to get a real deal workout in! It felt amazing!! The views from the workout center were beautiful too. 

When I returned, I got both me and Quinn ready for the day. I put her in the most adorable onesie that our family friend, Melinda, made her that fit perfectly!

Quinn is pulling up on furniture at every turn! Too fast, Quinnie girl! Momma needs you to slowww down. She also started saying “uh-ma” over the weekend, which is transforming more and more into a confident “momma” by the day <3.

For lunch every day we were there I had a turkey wrap with veggies and hummus, a side of Siggi’s yogurt and some popcorners. 

Happy girl with Grammy!

For dinner that evening, my mom made a delishh Jamaican curried stew. This is definitely going to be added to our winter meal rotation! We pureed up a bit for Quinn to enjoy too, and, boy, she did. It even had a little spice, but she didn’t seem to mind. Probably because I craved spicy food like nobody’s business when I was pregnant. 

For dinners, we hooked up the Inglesina fast chair so she could eat at the table with us. LOVE this thing!!

Cuddles with Grampy after dinner <3.

Kevin arrived later that evening and met Quinn for the first time right before she went to bed! She warmed right up to him.

The fam played Chameleon late into the evening (our current fav game) while sippin’ on Kahlua & Creams and orange vodka sprites. Pete dominated! I hit the hay earlier than everyone knowing I’d be up bright and early with Quinn. 

And I surely was! Around 630 on Christmas Eve, I got up with her and made some oatmeal with pb and coffee. My mom heard us and snuck out to kindly hold Quinn, so I could eat my breakfast without interruption (it’s the little things as a mom, isn’t it?). 

After her first nap, DJ took over so I could sneak out again for another run. Those little 30 min workouts through the weekend felt amazing. Sometimes if I try to add in a workout on daycare days I feel so guilty, so I don’t really enjoy it even though I know it’ll make me a better mom ultimately – it’s just a tug-of-war of the mind and heart!

For Quinn’s naps, I just walked her in the carrier in the downstairs sitting area.

It was tough at times feeling like I was missing out on precious time with the rest of the family I rarely see. But on the same token, I love Quinn’s nap time because it means cuddles for me. At home it’s a non-issue (I even can often get things done while she’s in the carrier or walk so I’m getting exercise), so it’s hard to have incentive to try the crib… But a time like that where I felt like I was missing out was a good reminder of why it’d be good to get to sleep in a crib on her own for naps. She does it at daycare (cat naps, but still), so I know she can do it! I told DJ one of my NY goals is to get her taking one solid crib nap a day by March. I don’t think that’s too lofty at all. I just need to be consistent which I have not been. It’s tough with my work schedule being so inconsistent & with all the sickness we’ve had recently. And I mean, again, it’s hard to turn down the sweet snuggles! Ok, I’ll stop now with my stream of consciousness lol. 

P.S. DJ offered many times to do the carrier nap with her, but I was worried about her getting overtired if she fought falling asleep, so I just said I’d do them.

Anyway, once she was up and ready to groove for the rest of the day, I changed us into our outfits for family photos. We took many, and of course, I have to share most of them :).

I did a little mini haul of outfits from H & M for Quinn- they have such cute stuff & you can find great deals!

I do love the neutrals, despite the “sad beige baby” warriors out there.. but come on, no one can accuse this girl of being sad!

For dinner, we had salad, wild rice, peas, veggie shish kebobs and beef tenderloin with bearnaise. As Quinn has tolerated yogurt and me eating a little goat cheese without issue, I decided to have a little bearnaise – and she seemed to do well! 

I had this alcohol-removed Luminara wine my mom brought along for dinner- it’s the best NA red wine I’ve tried yet! Good “fake” reds are really hard to find; whites are much better. But this was as good as it gets IMO!

Quinn had a serenity kids beef, kale and sweet potato pack. These were easy to bring along to make sure she got her solids in while traveling. She loves these packs, and they’re made with only organic good stuff.

Once we got her ready for bed, we started a couple new traditions. First, we traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with my dad every year, so as a way to honor and remember him we decided to have Quinn open one gift on Christmas Eve.

She opened her first ornament that matched her nursery theme <3. 

We then read The Night Before Christmas, which is surprisingly longer than I remembered ha!

We played a round of Chameleon and then loaded up Church on the living room TV.

Quinn and I called it a night so we could be rested for Santa’s arrival!

Doesn’t get cozier than this!

The morning was truly magical. It was an extra fun and extra special Christmas with Quinn here now. 

Before doing gifts, we enjoyed a spectacular spread my mom put together of my grandma’s mouth-watering quiche, cinnamon rolls, a tofu scramble, pastry, bacon, egg scramble with no cheese (for me), tater tots and fruit!

We poured mimosas, and my mom and I enjoyed non-alcoholic mimosas made with Surely wine (incredible).


Quinn opened some of her stocking after breakfast before taking a nap while the rest of us exchanged gifts. She snoozed well in my carrier despite the shuffling of wrapping paper and sound of torn open boxes. 

Sweet girl & her first stocking!

DJ took the pic after she woke up, and it melts my heart!!!

Time to join in on the fun!

and we sure did have fun!

The rest of the day we just lounged and relaxed. For dinner, we had asparagus, mashed potatoes and the most tremendous seabass made in the air fryer! I can’t believe I didn’t get a pic. It was out-of-this-world good! Just melted in your mouth. 

We checked in with Marie, and she sent us a Google file with Moose pics that helped us being away from him. He seemed to be having a blast! I admittedly did cry on Christmas because I missed him soooo much. 

How cute is this. It amazes me how she can get them all on a schedule. Also we were all cracking up at Moose choosing the smallest dog bed.

And that brings us to December 26th, sadly our last day.

We started the day with more fun by rolling one of her new gifts (a sensory ball) back and forth. Seeing how excited/proud she gets of herself brings me so much joy!!

Oh, and we couldn’t let Christmas pass without putting Quinnie in this outfit… 

We relaxed most if the day then packed up to go. Quinn soaked up some treasured last moments with her Grammy, Grampy, Aunt Hally and Uncle Kevin.

On our way out of town, we stopped by my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Asheville. It was special getting all the little cousins together for the first time!

Also, this was my first time going to my Aunt and Uncle’s new home- it is a renovated barn, and it may be the most incredible home I’ve ever seen! 

We left around 630 pm to hit the road after enjoying dinner and each other’s company. Quinn was not having it on the way home. Considering we have done three big overnight trips like this, and this was the only rough leg we’ve had, I consider ourselves pretty lucky. She was definitely overtired and, ironically, when babies get overtired it’s harder for them to fall asleep. We saw this scenario play out much of the drive home. I was so desperate at times to settle her I would lean over and nurse her for comfort in the car seat, lol.  When she did finally stop fighting it, I had to hold her hands or she’d startle awake. Thankfully, she slept well once we were home by around 4 am, and then she was her happy self and made a great unpacking buddy the next day :).

Thanks for sharing in our very special Christmas with us! Thank you also to my mom and Pete for putting this unforgettable family trip together! 

Questions for you:

  • Do you usually travel for the holidays or stay local?
  • What was the highlight of your Christmas?



All The Christmas Things! 🎄🥰

*Let’s try this again! When I first posted this it wasn’t showing up- hope it does this time!*

Hi all! I wanted to get this post out before Christmas, and I think it’s going to happen! I am as shocked as you are. I’m looking forward to writing it since it’s all the Christmas Things and then some ☺️.

Picking up after Thanksgiving! November 26th I took Moose on his first ever official run (trot for him) now that he’s old enough. We did 4 miles together! So. Much. Fun.

The weekend was pretty chill as DJ recovered from HFM. I just knocked a lot off the to-do list and got the house in order which was nice.

November 27th I started the day with a spinach, mushroom, vegan smoked Gouda omelette and a side of leftover vegan cornbread and jam. 😊

That afternoon, I was sterilizing Quinn’s pacis. Many times when she has her paci, she makes a “doi doi” sound, so naturally we started calling her paci her “doi doi”. Well when I was sterilizing this new batch, DJ walked over with Quinn and went “Look Quinnie, Mommy’s making doi doi stew!”. Made me laugh 😆.

You can hear the “doi doi” a little in this vid 🥰

The night of December 1st, Quinn spiked a 102 temp. The whole next day, she mostly slept but seemed to feel better by the evening. Must have been a 24 hour bug. Thankfully I didn’t have to work that day and could give her all the cuddles.

Another day, another veggie bone broth soup.

December 4th was a lot of fun! Kollyns, my cousin’s daughter, had her first birthday at a fruit farm lodge! It was the coolest first birthday, not a detail was spared. It was Christmas themed with a tree full of ornaments of her from the first year, festive decorations galore, a cookie making station for the kids, a hot chocolate and coffee station and the cherry on top- a special appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves!

This was Quinn’s first time meeting Santa and she did great. She was purely fascinated by this guy with a long beard. Speaking of- she decided to pull said (very real) beard. Poor Santa!! That girl has an iron grip too. I know, my hair is on the receiving end of it most days, lol.

But still a memory so sweet! Just like this dessert station 😍.

December 5th we woke up to this glorious sunrise!

That afternoon, Gigi, Chris and Renee stopped by to see Quinn and have lunch together! We ordered in Piada. They also kindly watched her while I ran off to a doctors appointment (finally established a PCP after being here for over a year, figured I should practice what I preach ha). Us healthcare folk can be the worst patients.

Anyway, while they were here, they shared the link to all the wedding photos! (You may remember the wedding from this post). They were without a doubt some of the most gorgeous wedding photos I’ve ever seen!! I wanted to share this one of Quinn making her first ever debut as flower girl down the aisle :).

That afternoon for Quinn’s nap, Gigi walked with us in a nearby neighborhood for a good couple hours. It was so fun, the two of us could chat forever if given the chance!! And Quinn slept the entire time. I think she likes the white noise of the chit chat.

December 6th, I unfortunately had to call off work again since Quinn spiked a temp overnight. She turned the corner fairly quickly the next day though, just had a little cold that lingered after.

That evening I made some Banza pasta paired with a yummy Athletic non-alcoholic IPA.

Moose was exhausted that evening after a fun day at Aunt Marie’s!

For DJ, I made some black bean tacos that week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have them because there was soy in them, but he said they were delicious!

December 7th I ran through the Starbucks drive through before a haircut. I have gotta say. I have decided as an unpopular opinion that I just don’t like Starbucks. Cue the gasps. I know, I know. I sound like a real coffee snob, but the coffee always tastes so bitter to me. We’re spoiled with having Nervous Dog nearby; it’s tough to go back to Starbucks after that. But I will definitely drink it if there’s nothing else around, don’t get me wrong. I will drink any coffee over no coffee.

I dropped off Quinn at daycare for a couple hours while I got the hairs chopped and took Moose for a run. They sent this sweet picture of her writing her first letter to Santa!❤️ It’s hard for me to drop her off when I don’t absolutely have to, but these pics remind me she genuinely enjoys daycare!

When I picked her up, we had fun together the rest of the day! We went to the same local shop we did in the fall, and this time instead of pumpkins, we picked up poinsettias. The owners were both there and soo sweet. They seemed happy to see Quinn again!

I also picked up a couple other little Christmas trinkets like the reindeer feed, burlap fern, and coffee mug that I lined with candy canes. I put Quinn front facing in the carrier for the first time ever while decorating- she was alll about that!

This Santa pictured above actually has special sentiment. It was my grandma’s, and she distributed them to family before she and my grandpa moved into their current place. All my family on my mom’s side has a couple Santas. I obviously wanted the baking Santa with the dog and was excited when he was still up for the taking!

That evening, I asked DJ if he was craving anything specific for dinner, and he requested cacio e pepe. We had this for the first time in Austin, and we were obsessed. I looked up a recipe expecting it to be complicated (I mean the name sounds so fancy, right?), but it was actually so easy!!! Highly recommend. (I couldn’t eat it with the dairy, but I will be trying it as soon as I can). DJ raved about it!

December 9th I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I had a 102 fever overnight (deja vu!) and severe chills. I haven’t had chills like that since I was a kid. It was hard to get out of bed, but obviously Quinn needed me to. I tried to stay moving and distracted most of the day so I didn’t have to focus how terrible I felt. I started to put together the gift bags for her daycare teachers and wrapped a few gifts.

I captured Quinn’s 7 month photo (just a couple days late). These photos are getting harder to get because she’s so wiggly and wanting to be Dora the Explorer everywhere she goes.

Probably needless to say, this sweet girl and my time with her was the best medicine. I was feeling better by the evening!

I was fiercely craving red meat that evening, so I made some bison tacos for dinner. Mmm mmm.

Unfortunately, with my fever and not feeling 100%, we cancelled our weekend plans. We’ve had to cancel so many plans lately, but thankfully everyone has been very understanding.

The morning of December 11th, I sat with Quinn and rolled this small ball to her. She loved it (but is still working on the idea of rolling it back hehe). She’s sitting so well though unassisted now.

That day I made a gift box for the delivery drivers who I do not know what I’d without this year. Since Quinn was born we pretty much have had everything delivered, and I’m so darn grateful for the convenience.

December 13th, Quinn and I went to First Watch with Gigi! Quinn had her very first food order out for herself, which of course I had to document. I got her a couple eggs that I could cut into strips and feed her. She did well! About the same amount made it on the floor that made it in her mouth, but it was so fun.

Gigi ordered their cinnamon chocolate chip pancake. Their pancakes are so so good.

I had their tri-athlete. Love this meal, it’s so filling and nourishing. I think the cremini mushrooms they put in it are particularly tasty.

We went back to play with Quinn before Gigi headed out for the day. I adore these pics! 💕.

We got Quinn the biggest playpen we could find for the living room. She loves it! We had a hard time keeping her from climbing on the wood furniture and chasing after Moose’s bones, so this was a great solution! (Moose was so fed up with her going after his bones that he started stock piling them on the couch out of her reach. One time we gave her one of her toys that looked like a bone just to keep her happy 😂).

Also, this is officially Quinn’s pouf- she loves pulling up and standing on it. Such an unexpectedly great little tool for her to practice her gross motor skills.

For dinner that evening, I made us caulipower chicken tenders, veggies and farro. I’ve been on a real farro kick lately. I love how hearty and chewy it is.

December 14th I was craving sushi like nobody’s business. I ordered an eel and crab roll from Ichiban Sushi for lunch- never disappoints!

That evening, I made a veggie flatbread with tomato sauce, kite hill ricotta cheese (vegan), mushrooms, artichoke hearts, arugula and vegan parmesan on a Lavash wrap. This turned out unexpectedly so delicious. That kite hill ricotta is a winner!!

The evening of December 15th was DJ’s holiday party for work. I ordered Enticing Cakes to bring to the party. They had great flavors, including a deep fried Oreo cupcake! We didn’t make it to dessert to try them out (had to leave early to get Quinnie to sleep), but we will reorder for some occasion and give them a try! I just love DJ’s coworkers and always have a blast when we all get together.

December 17th, we went over my brother and sister-in-law’s to celebrate Christmas with them and my nephews and niece! It was special bonding time. My brother is an awesome dad, but it’s fun seeing him in the Uncle role now. Here he’s showing Quinn the ornaments on the Christmas tree and the train looping around on the track.

Chatting with my sister-in-law, Maura, is like therapy! She’s a mom of three young ones and always has amazing wisdom, tips and advice for me. So grateful for them.

Kate could not wait to see and hold her cousin Quinn!

Kate gave us all face paintings, and I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture because the butterfly she painted on my cheek was so cute & good! DJ and Jack were two peas in a pod the whole evening, playing various sports games. Will is a ball of energy and has the sweetest little giggle! I love seeing his sweet personality develop.

We opened gifts and enjoyed watching the kids play with them before heading out.

December 18th, my good friend Melissa had a birthday lunch at Michael Angelo’s. I was so excited to try out the food since the only time I’d been there was for Renee’s wedding. I didn’t get pics (I should have), but I tried their asparagus salad with salmon, and it was soooo gooood. I think I will go back there for my birthday-there’s so much on their menu I want to try! It was a blast- I got to meet many of the fellow bridesmaids and flower girl who will be in Melissa’s wedding next August. They are all so awesome!

December 19th, I couldn’t find my pump bag anywhere. I realized I must have left it at work, so I ran there to get it. So frustrating when things like this happen because it feels like a time suck, but I was grateful I at least found it!

This week at daycare, I received this adorable pic!

They also sent the sweetest, most creative Christmas goodies back with Quinn. Made me darn emotional! They have a wrapped gift from Quinn to us that I’m saving for Christmas Day. I savor everything. How special is all this?! There’s even a little footprint reindeer ornament 🥺💕.

And that wraps us up to about… well now! Have a very Merry Christmas, all! What a beautiful time of year to spend time with loved ones and celebrate Christ’s birth. ❤️🎄

Questions for you:

– What are your Christmas plans?

– I didn’t get around to baking cookies this year, but if you did, what did you make?!



Favorite Quotes from Educated!

Educated was easily one of the most well-written, gripping stories I have ever read. I had a hard time narrowing down my favorite quotes- but these were definitely some of them! I highlighted a good portion of this book just out of pure admiration of Tara Westover’s insightful, vivid and beautiful writing. Others were the power of the words- the way she was able to put universal experiences into words in a genius way.

“It would be past dusk by then- that moment just before night sets in, when the landscape is visible only as darkness and lighter darkness, and you feel the world around you more than you see it.” (Ch. 1, p. 7).

“It’s a tranquility born of sheer immensity; it calms with its very magnitude, which renders the merely human of no consequence.” (Ch. 3, p. 27).

“but the notion that a person could be functional, lucid, persuasive, and something could still be wrong, had never occurred to me.” (Ch. 3, p. 29)

“Dad lived in fear of time. He felt it stalking him.” (Ch. 6, p. 55)

“The skill I was learning was a crucial one, the patience to read things I could not yet understand.” (Ch. 6, p. 62)

“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the courage to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s”. (Ch. 22, p. 197).

“Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.” (Ch. 22, p. 197)

“He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.” (Ch. 23, p. 199).

“His voice was gentle, and that gentleness was cruel.” (Ch. 23, p. 200).

“Curiosity is a luxury reserved for the financially secure:…” (Ch. 23, p. 203).

“I began to experience the most powerful advantage of money: the ability to think of things besides money.” (Ch. 24, p. 207).

“I knew what it was to have a misconception corrected- a misconception of such magnitude that shifting it shifted the world.” (Ch. 28, p. 238).

“I could tolerate any form of cruelty better than kindness”. (Ch. 28, p. 240).

“I felt exposed by the elegance and yet somehow made invisible by it”. (Ch. 28, p. 241).

“This monster child stalked me for a month before I found a logic to banish her: that I was likely insane. If I was insane, everything could be made to make sense. If I was sane, nothing could. The logic seemed damning. It was also a relief. I was not evil; I was clinical.” (Ch. 35, p. 294).

“When I was a child, I waited for my mind to grow, for my experiences to accumulate and my choices to solidify, taking shape into the likeness of a person.” (Ch. 40, p. 327).

“But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.” (Ch. 40, p. 327).

Have you read Educated? Would love to discuss it more!



Friday Favorites! Newborn Edition

This Friday Favorites is going to be a little different today! I figured I would whip up my 10 favorite items I’ve used in this newborn phase. It was hard to narrow down, but I tried to focus on the items I rely on almost daily!

1. Lovevery Play Gym & Play Kit. Quinn loves her play gym, whether on her back or for tummy time. She was gifted the subscription box as well, and it is amazing!! She is so fascinated by everything in it & it’s so fun. I love how it focuses on fostering her development too.

2. Hakka Electric Nail Care Set. I used a regular manual baby nail file for the first couple weeks, and it seemed to take forever and wasn’t very effective. This nail file is a game changer!! It’s safe, easy and fast. She doesn’t mind it either.

3. The Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. The Brest friend is my best friend!!! I LOVE this, and it makes the difference for comfortable breastfeeding. She feels so much more secured and well- positioned on it. I also like to make lunch and then can eat one handed while supporting her with the other on the Brest friend. A must for breastfeeding in my book!

4. Ergo Baby Carrier Wrap. I live in this!! As does Quinn. It’s another game changer- I can get so much done, and she is so comfy in it. It soothes her more than anything too. If she is fussy I put her in this, go for a walk, and it really tends to do the trick. The only downside is it’s a little challenging to initially figure out. But soooo worth putting in the time to learn! It also loosens so I do have to redo it through the day. I just love having her so close to me too.

5. This changing table. We use this in our bedroom right now for night changes and use the changing pad from the nursery downstairs since we don’t do changes in the actual nursery yet. I love this changing table! It has great pockets, is super easy to clean and is easy to assemble.

6. Bath Kneeler and Elbow Rest Pad. A bath time essential !

7. Bumco Bum Brush. This makes applying diaper creams/ointments so much easier and less messy! I love!

8. Itzy Ritzy Diaper Bag. Obsessed with this bag! I take it everywhere with us.

9. Baby Bjorn Bouncer. Due to Quinn’s reflux, this bouncer has been particularly useful during her playtime immediately after feeds before switching to the play mat.

10. GoGo Plastic Milk Bags. I tried a couple different milk storage bags (I tried some silicone ones that were too expensive and a pain!), but I love these- they have no air when you seal them, and they’re BPA free.

What are some things you’re loving lately?



*All pictures are from the respectively linked site*